1

When I try to take a photo through window screen, the plane of focus is the window screen rather than the things outside.

Is there any way to forcibly change the focal distance when every part of the field of view is covered by the window screen?

I want a close-up shot, of the thing outside, so stepping back from the window screen is not ideal.

I am using an iPhone SE. On an "old" style camera, I would adjust the lense to change the focal distance.

2

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, but you can force the iPhone camera to focus on a particular item/person by tapping where it's located on the screen.

In your case you may also want to lock the focus and exposure. You can do this by tapping and holding on the screen for about two seconds. When you do this you'll see a number of contracting rectangles around your finger and you're then free to move the camera a little while keeping it locked on a particular scene without losing focus. You'll know it's worked as AE/AF LOCK will appear on screen. To undo this, just tap anywhere on the screen.

You can also zoom in to what you're wanting to capture by pinching two fingers on the screen. This will reveal a line with a positive sign (+) at one end and a negative sign (-) at the other. You can then drag along this line to zoom in/out as required.

[UPDATE]

I'm no photography expert, but since you've clarified you're talking about focal distance, then the iPhone SE by default isn't going to really achieve what you're looking for on its own. After all, it's not a dedicated camera per se.

Instead you might want to consider purchasing one of the many add-on telephoto lenses for iPhone. Apple does offer the olloclip 4-IN-1 Lens which is compatible with iPhone SE models, so it may be worth checking out whether that would meet your needs.

If not, you may find others that meet your needs, such as from the highly regarded likes of Moment and Ztylus.

Another possible option would be to research 3rd party camera apps. Some of these are very highly rated and can achieve awesome enhancements over the default iOS camera app, although I can't personally recommend one in terms of focal distance.

  • The problem with tapping and holding is that the window screen is everywhere in the field of view. There's nowhere to tap without the window screen. On an "old" style camera, I just adjust the lense to change the focal distance. – user2153235 May 28 '18 at 0:40
  • You can guesstimate it using Monomeeth's method. Estimate the distance between the glass & your intended subject. Step back that distance. Focus-lock. Step forward. Click. – Tetsujin May 28 '18 at 5:04
  • @Monomeeth: Thank you. I marked the answer as this answer, but don't have enough reputation to up-vote. – user2153235 Jun 9 '18 at 21:35
  • @Tetsujin: If you will post your suggestion as an answer, that's the one that I find must useful for my situation because it requires no gear or apps. No overhead. I just tried it now. Of course, there's gross approximation in the distance adjustment, and the presence of the screen makes it hard to accurately assess the improvement in focus, but the improvement is quite noticeable. – user2153235 Jun 9 '18 at 21:37
0

There is a multitude of third-party apps which allow you to manually control most aspects of the camera, including focal distance. Halide, VSCO, Manual, Camera+, and ProCam are just a few which offer this functionality.

0

Borrowing heavily on Monomeeth's answer & from comments underneath...

In your case you may also want to lock the focus and exposure. You can do this by tapping and holding on the screen for about two seconds. When you do this you'll see a number of contracting rectangles around your finger and you're then free to move the camera a little while keeping it locked on a particular scene without losing focus. You'll know it's worked as AE/AF LOCK will appear on screen. To undo this, just tap anywhere on the screen.

You can guesstimate it using Monomeeth's method.

Estimate the distance between the glass & your intended subject.
Step back that distance.
Focus-lock.
Step forward.
Click.

A photographer would call that "focus & recompose" though usually not to such an extent.

  • I found your addendum to be very useful because it was not clear to me from the quoted text whether the freedom to "move...a little" mean laterally or depth wise. Also, I wasn't sure whether the AE/AF meant that some AI recognizes the feature of interest, as identified by the rectangle(s), and tracked its movement in the field of view (laterally and/or depthwise), automatically adjusting as it moved. That would seem to defeat my attempts at fooling the AE/AF (which is how I consider this solution). Then again, as I said, I wasn't sure that I fully understood the quoted text. – user2153235 Jun 11 '18 at 1:09
  • I'm surprised that this trick is a thing for photographers in general, with a name (focus & recompose). My problem is only an issue with cameras that don't provide manual focus, and I assume serious photography uses cameras with manual focus. – user2153235 Jun 11 '18 at 1:13
  • Modern AF is so much faster than manual, that pros will use it when it's the best method; for moving objects, sports, weddings...anything. It's easier & more accurate. Focus & recompose is for slightly more 'difficult' subjects, or when you don't want your subject centre-frame, or there is something in-frame which the camera would normally prefer to focus on. DSLR's & phones use different methods to focus, a DSLR only has focus points around the centre; this article explains - digital-photography-school.com/… – Tetsujin Jun 11 '18 at 6:35
  • DSLRs can focus using the same method as a phone, but do do this you need to be in "Live View" which puts the viewfinder on the rear screen, just like a phone does. This then switches the focus method. A lot of photographers don't like viewing this way, but times are changing. – Tetsujin Jun 11 '18 at 6:37
  • Interesting. I always assumed that "SLR" meant mechanical dials for manual focus and aperture control, possibly with exposure time dial. With DSLR, times really are a-changing. – user2153235 Jun 12 '18 at 12:08

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